Updated: Dec 5, 2021
Too busy to work out? I hear you BUT I also have a solution to what seems like repetitive long days with "no time to squeeze in movement". I get that life gets crazy & all of a sudden it's dark outside, you finally have the chance to sit down to decompress from the day & then it's game over. If I told you that if you start making time in the morning or at lunch to squeeze in a 20-minute workout, you would have more energy to power through your days, would you believe me? Short bouts of exercise have very large impacts on our day-to-day mental & physical energy. This is a fact that is known by many but commonly ignored. Let me show you 5 exercises that you can start to incorporate into your week to help increase your energy, help your body release endorphins & make your joints happy! Whether you are the [parsimonious] person, who refuses to spend money on a gym or at home workouts, or not- this is a good addition to any exercise you are already doing... or already not doing. I am here for you & I want you to move your body more!
5 second lowering phase + 5 second lifting phase = your TEMPO
What is a tempo & why do we change the tempo of exercises? The tempo of an exercise is the speed at which you perform an exercise from the start to finish of one rep. The benefit of having a longer tempo is that your muscles have more time under tension. When performing an exercise this longer tempo essentially "ups the game" & makes your body work harder, even without increasing any weight load, you can aid in building up your muscles. That is why this short, simple, bodyweight workout is going to be perfect for you.
Try these 5 exercises, moving slowly at this tempo- each rep means you inhale for 5 seconds to start the exercise & exhale for 5 seconds on the effort. Now if this is your first time trying a tempo like this, obviously experiment, you should never feel like you are going to pass out from breathing or have any pain while performing exercises. Be smart!
1. Shoulders square over hips
2. Feet positioned slightly wider than hips [about shoulder width], usually a slight external rotation [toes face outward] feels comfortable for the average human but small changes in stance are necessary from person to person, feel your toes & heels grounded into the surface you are standing on, ribs softened to body [NO FLARING] while also keeping your chest open or "proud"
3. Spine is neutral- as you lower into your squat you use your pelvic floor with the rest of your abdominal muscles to support the spine & to avoid extending through the low back
4. Knees are over the mid-foot - toe ball junction area [watch that your knees do not fall inward or outward, they stay tracking in line with your big toe & second toe] be mindful that you do not need to go lower than thighs parallel to the floor & also making sure that you do not feel that your low back is loaded in any way
1. Shoulders square in line with the hips
2. Feet are parallel & hipbone width distance apart
3. Spine is neutral [pretend as if you have a wooden pole on your back, the pole would sit on the 3 points of contact on your backside- back of the head, upper back & tail bone] your natural spinal curvatures are the back of your neck + low back
4. Send your butt back towards the direction of the wall behind you as you hinge at the hips [note when first starting to learn your deadlift this is important to focus on because it is easy to turn this movement into more of a squat than a deadlift, BUTT BACK + chest parallel to the floor is important]
5. Arms stay close to the body & parallel [under arm is active]
1. Your upper body stays upright remember- ribs soft, core engaged [unless you have extremely tight hips, then you should hinge forward slightly]
2. Feet are in a nice wide split stance with your back heel lifted, find stability through inner & outer thighs
3. Upper body stays upright while you lower
4. Both knees bend making sure the front knee stays over the ankle [if your front knee is jutting forward over your toes you may need to bend your back knee more or widen your stance]
1. Neutral Spine using the core to support this position
2. Wrists underneath shoulders with a soft pocket in the elbow so that you avoid locking out [be mindful of your neck muscles here, you do not want them to be gripping, if that becomes the case, move your neck gentle to release the tension, find more of a push through your palms & maybe even try lowering to the knees to perform your push-up]
3. THE ONLY JOINT THAT MOVES IS YOUR ELBOW!! It is not necessarily how low you can go, it is about lowering yourself with the strength of your arms without breaking form
1. Knees over hips to create a 90 degree angle at the hip joint- avoid getting grippy in the hip flexors- if you do start to feel too much hip flexor, take your knees wider out to the side but keep your feet hipbone width distance apart
2. Arms directly over shoulders
3. Spine is neutral- this is very important so that when you start moving your limbs you do not change your spinal position- use your core to breathe air into your entire torso area for abdominal support
4. One arm lengthens overhead
5. The opposite leg of the arm that is moving, lengthens out away from the hips- it is very important that you do not lower the leg too low because the lower you go, the more likely you are to lose your core control & let your low back take on the load of your leg weight
Give these 5 movements a try with a tempo, make sure to do reps equally on the single sided exercises. Do what you can & find the balance of listening to your body while also giving yourself a good challenge!